Street scene in Homs (Open Doors)

Hundreds of people displaced from Syria’s third largest city of Homs because of years of violent conflict will soon be returning home, according to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Homs saw some of the first protests of the Syrian conflict back in 2011 and in the years that followed much of the city was obliterated, forcing vast numbers of people to flee.

Families have been slowly returning to Homs since the government regained control of the city in March 2017.

ACN said it hoped the 97 homes it is helping to renovate will be ready by the end of the summer, and that it is prioritising the poorest families struggling to pay for rented accommodation.

“We are so happy for us and our children, for we are going to return to our own home,” said one beneficiary, Aziz Al Houri.

Another, a pregnant young woman, said she hoped to have moved into her repaired home in time for the birth of her child.

Structural engineers have been evaluating damaged houses due for repair, case by case.

Hala Mashhour, a young volunteer architect working on the scheme, said: “This project fills me with enthusiasm because I would love to see Homs with a new face and her former beauty restored.”

Her own family is still renting a small flat costing 25,000 Syrian pounds (US$50) per month.